I find it is especially true in the places considered, “Southern,” that, when first meeting people, one of the first questions I get is, “Are you married?” Over the last year (…or two) I have seen this come after the question, “So, do you have any children?” (Which is concerning- what happened to people confusing me for a college student?)
When I answer, with no lack of enthusiasm or any degree of dread, that I am, in fact, not married nor do I have children, I typically hear, “Oh, that’s OK…” followed by a look of shock, pity or, in some cases, hope.
I try to assure them that I know it is OK to be single and even go so far as to inform them that I enjoy where God has me. Yes, I am one of those- apparently rare- gems that enjoys singleness.
I would like to experiment the next time I am introduced to a person who is married/has children and, upon learning this tidbit of their life, offer the unsolicited assurance, “Oh, that’s OK…”
I think there is a cultural expectation- even in “today’s society”- for women (especially of a certain age, which is apparently any age post college) to have children and be married. It may be that I am in the south. It may be that I meet a lot of people at church. It may be that I am happy so people assume I am in a relationship. It may be that people seek to connect to something similar in the lives of others. It may be that I feel a little defensive on this topic as it seems to be constantly misunderstood- some of which single people are to blame for bearing their cross/gift of singleness rather poorly.
Do not misunderstand me: I have been blessed to be a part of romantic relationships and they can be wonderful and fruitful. And I am blessed to be in relationship with many people- younger, older, women, friends, co-workers. It is because I am single at this time that I am more open to many avenues of relationship with people and more open to opportunities of service and learning. There is much beauty in relationship. I was created for relationship. I am still learning how to be open to all the Lord has created me for. I am enjoying learning the depths of my desires and that they are purposefully created and good. I do want to have children one day. I do want to get married one day. I hope that day comes. But I do not rest my joy in that hope.
I am in the midst of learning about freedom in the Lord. For me, right now, that means freedom from placing my hope in things that fade or people that will fail. Freedom comes when I place my hope, my joy, my trust, and my self in the hands of the Lord. My rest comes from this place. Beauty comes from this place. (This is by no means the first time I have been taught this lesson nor will it be the last because I am a person who fails and I am a person offered grace.)
Yes, I was created for relationship. Yes, I am blessed to be surrounded by relationship. No, I am not married. No, I have not born any children.
And that’s OK.